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Experts differ on utility of census data for providing OBC quota in local bodies

The Supreme Court, on December 6, observed that the 27% OBC quota, given by the state government through an ordinance, could not have been implemented without setting up a commission and without collecting data regarding the inadequacy of representation of the community in local bodies.

Soon after the apex court stay, the state government reiterated its demand for the 2011 census data from the Centre, saying that it can fast-track the process of giving political reservation to the OBC community in local bodies.

While the state government is keen to get census data from the Centre for providing OBC reservation in local bodies, experts differ on the use of the census data for the purpose.

The Supreme Court, on December 6, observed that the 27% OBC quota, given by the state government through an ordinance, could not have been implemented without setting up a commission and without collecting data regarding the inadequacy of representation of the community in local bodies.

Soon after the apex court stay, the state government reiterated its demand for the 2011 census data from the Centre, saying that it can fast-track the process of giving political reservation to the OBC community in local bodies. Chhagan Bhujbal, NCP minister and senior OBC leader, said the government will urge the apex court to let the State Election Commission hold elections on all seats or postpone elections of all local bodies. The SC hearing is scheduled to take place on December 13.

However, sources who work on the issue of OBC reservation in local bodies said that it is difficult to say whether the census data would be of any use. “The use of census data can be talked about only after looking at what kind of details it has. So far, nobody has seen it. So, it is difficult to say whether it will be useful for the state or not,” said an official, adding that the government’s move of seeking the census data could be a political decision.

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However, experts on the OBC reservation issue said that census data would be useful and the Centre should release the data. “The 2011 census was the socio-economic census and it has all the details about educational, economical and political backwardness of the castes. So, if the Centre shares the 2011 census data, the process of providing political reservation to the OBC could be fast-tracked and it can be restored in a few months,” said Hari Narke, a former member of the state backward classes commission.

Narke dismissed the Centre’s argument of census data having errors, stating that 8-10 per cent errors are accepted in the general census and there is only 1-1.5 per cent error in the 2011 census.

First published on: 13-12-2021 at 04:01 IST
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